I was quite surprised to read the news of former South Carolina Carroll Campbell’s death yesterday of a heart attack. He was only 65 years old and had suffered from Alzheimer’s for the past four years.
Ex-SC Governor Carroll Campbell dies – Charlotte Observer
Campbell was one of President Ronald Reagan’s strongest supporters in the South and among America’s governors in the 1980s. Many credit Campbell with being the one of the key architects of solidifying the Republican South in the Reagan era.
After he was elected governor, I ran into him in Lancaster with the GOP strategist/Machiavellian that he considered his “little brother” — Lee Atwater.
This time, Campbell was surrounded by handlers, publicists and reporters — he was dressed like he was there for a wedding in a red power tie, starched white shirt and dark suit. Atwater slouched with no tie and rumpled road clothes.
No one knew it at the time, but Atwater would be dead of a brain tumor in less than two years at age 40. Campbell’s name was announced, and he took to the stage.
Atwater helped orchestrate Campbell’s national rise. They co-chaired Bush Sr.’s successful 1988 presidential campaign. Atwater was beaming. Someone asked him what he was thinking:
“Look at Carroll up there in those lights; he looks like a rock star.”
I remember thinking at the moment, I bet I know what they’re both really thinking: